DML Morning Briefing Tues. Dec. 22: Funding bill packed with PORK, Rand Paul’s speech against bill goes viral, and much more…
By Team DML
Today is December 22 and I am Dennis Michael Lynch.
1 – Congress passes largest bill EVER… packed with PORK
Monday night, a massive 5,593-page spending bill – the longest legislation ever – was rushed through both the House and the Senate and now is going to President Trump for his signature. The bill was only released hours before voting was to begin, leaving congress members on both sides of the aisle voicing their outrage that there was no time to even read it before they were required to vote.
Breitbart noted: Given that the standard ream of paper contains 500 pages and stands 2.5 inches tall, the total height of the bill is 2.5 feet.
Attached to the $900 billion pandemic relief package is a $1.4 trillion catchall spending bill, filled with special interest provisions having nothing to do with funding the U.S. government or providing Covid-19 pandemic relief to the American people.
The bill provides $600 to individuals making up to $75,000 per year and $1,200 to couples making up to $150,000, with payments phased out for higher incomes. An additional $600 payment will be made per dependent child. Also included is a $300 per week unemployment benefit.
The bill passed in the House in a 359-53 vote, then breezed through the Senate in a 92-6 vote.
The massive legislation includes billions in foreign aid, including hundreds of millions of dollars to the Palestinians; and a congressional statement on U.S. policy on the succession of the Dalai Lama in Tibet, $169 million to Vietnam, “unspecified” funds to higher education in Afghanistan, $10 million for gender programs in Pakistan, $15 million to refurbish a ship in Sri Lanka, $500 million to Central American countries to address key factors that contribute to the migration of unaccompanied illegal alien minors to the U.S., and much, much more.
DML: So basically, this means we only have 53 people in the House and 6 people in the Senate with a backbone!
2 – Rand Paul’s Senate floor speech against COVID-19 bill goes viral
Fox News reports: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., addressed the Senate Monday afternoon as his colleagues prepared to vote for a $900 billion coronavirus relief package and told his fellow Republicans who backed the stimulus that they are no better than the Democrats they criticize who align themselves with socialism.
“To so-called conservatives who are quick to identify the socialism of Democrats: If you vote for this spending monstrosity, you are no better,” Paul said.
“If free money was the answer… if money really did grow on trees, why not give more free money?” he said. “Why not give it out all the time? Why stop at $600 a person? Why not $1,000? Why not $2,000? Maybe these new Free-Money Republicans should join the Everybody-Gets-A-Guaranteed-Income Caucus? Why not $20,000 a year for everybody, why not $30,000? If we can print out money with impunity, why not do it?”
In addition to Paul objecting to the bill, five other senators voted against it: Rick Scott, R-Fla., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Ted Cruz, R-Texas and Ron Johnson, R-Wis.
DML: Amen, Sen. Paul!
3 – Coronavirus Relief Package Restores Pell Grants for Prison Inmates
Breitbart reports: Congress is poised to repeal the ban on prison inmates receiving Pell Grants for higher education if the coronavirus relief package becomes law.
On Monday, both the United States House of Representatives and the Senate agreed to a broad $2.4 trillion spending deal, which includes more than $900 billion in relief for individuals and businesses impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
While the bill does provide essential relief for those impacted by the pandemic, most notably through $325 billion in small business funding, the legislation also has a bevy of non-public-health-related inclusions tucked within its 5,593 pages. One such inclusion is language repealing the ban on incarcerated individuals receiving Pell Grants, federal tax subsidies provided to low-income students pursuing a bachelor’s degree. The ban was first implemented through the 1994 crime bill largely written by then-senator, now-President-elect Joe Biden.
Individuals previously convicted of a drug crime are also set to benefit from the coronavirus relief proposal, as the legislation will repeal a 1998 law prohibiting federal education assistance from being provided to such offenders.
DML: What about the homeless veterans on the street? Do they get Pell Grants too????
4 – Coronavirus Package Spends Hundreds of Millions of Tax Dollars Securing Borders of Middle Eastern Countries
Breitbart reports: A year-end spending package meant to provide Americans with economic relief during the Chinese coronavirus crisis includes using United States taxpayer money to fund border security in foreign countries.
As part of the more than 5,590-page spending bill, the deal provides the country of Jordan with “up to $500,000,000” in taxpayer money “to provide assistance to the Government of Jordan to support the armed forces of Jordan and to enhance security along its borders.”
Likewise, the bill gives $250 million in taxpayer money to the countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, and Oman for “enhanced border security.” Specifically in Lebanon, the bill gives taxpayer money to “secure the borders” of Lebanon.
The bill also spends $700 million in taxpayer money on “assistance” for Sudan and its citizens.
DML: Protect our OWN borders!!!
5 – Coronavirus Package Keeps MS-13 Gang Amnesty Pipeline, Limits Border Wall
Breitbart reports: A relief package for Americans during the Chinese coronavirus crisis includes a continuation of a de facto amnesty pipeline for illegal aliens while placing limits on where the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can construct United States-Mexico border wall.
First enacted at the beginning of 2019, Congress is looking to continue a de facto amnesty pipeline that can be readily used by members of the violent MS-13 Gang which recruits Central American teenagers.
In a year-end spending bill, meant to be relief for struggling Americans, lawmakers have included provisions that ban the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency from deporting any illegal aliens who are living in households with or are related to “Unaccompanied Alien Children” (UACs) who quickly get released to relatives after arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Under the provisions, ICE agents cannot detain, deport, or even refer for deportation illegal aliens who are “a sponsor, potential sponsor, or member of a household of a sponsor or potential sponsor” to a UAC so long as they have not been convicted of a felony.
Limitations on U.S. Border Wall funding
Breitbart also reports: The bill provides nearly $1.4 billion to construct 56 miles of border wall along the southern border. The money comes with limitations, though, that bans DHS from constructing wall within:
- The Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge
- The Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park
- The La Lomita Historical Park
- The National Butterfly Center
- The Vista del Mar Ranch tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge
- Historical cemeteries
On Monday, Somalian refugee Rep. Ilhan Omar celebrated that the bill included a provision she has been pushing for – COVID-19 Economic Assistance to Mixed Status Filers.
A report by The Hill explains, “The bill will allow U.S. citizens who are in households that also include non-citizens to receive the payments. With the first round of payments, U.S. citizens married to people who do not have work-eligible Social Security numbers generally could not receive a payment if the couple filed a joint return. ”
“The bill also extends the deadline for Liberian-Americans to apply for green cards another year—a victory for many in my district,” Omar also tweeted.
DML: I’m outraged!
6 – Billions Going to Foreign Aid in Bill: Gender Programs in Pakistan
In a report Monday night, Breitbart shared a list of some of the foreign aid provisions included in the massive spending bill that’s now awaiting President Trump’s signature. See below:
- $169,739,000 to Vietnam, including $19 million to remediate dioxins (page 1476).
- Unspecified funds to “continue support for not-for-profit institutions of higher education in Kabul, Afghanistan that are accessible to both women and men in a coeducational environment” (page 1477).
- $198,323,000 to Bangladesh, including $23.5 million to support Burmese refugees and $23.3 million for “democracy programs” (page 1485).
- $130,265,000 to Nepal for “development and democracy programs” (page 1485).
- Pakistan: $15 million for “democracy programs” and $10 million for “gender programs” (page 1486).
- Sri Lanka: Up to $15 million “for the refurbishing of a high endurance cutter,” which is a type of patrol boat (page 1489).
- $505,925,000 to Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama to “address key factors that contribute to the migration of unaccompanied, undocumented minors to the United States” (pages 1490-1491).
- $461,375,000 to Colombia for programs related to counternarcotics and human rights (pages 1494-1496).
- $74.8 million to the “Caribbean Basin Security Initiative” (page 1498).
- $33 million “for democracy programs for Venezuela” (page 1498).
- Unspecified amount to Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Curacao, and Trinidad and Tobago “for assistance for communities in countries supporting or otherwise impacted by refugees from Venezuela” (page 1499).
- $132,025,000 “for assistance for Georgia” (page 1499).
- $453 million “for assistance for Ukraine” (page 1500).
DML: President Trump should NOT be signing this bill. Get this mess OUT of the bill NOW!